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Bound and Determined (Hearts Entwined Collection): A Fort Reno Novella

Bound and Determined (Hearts Entwined Collection): A Fort Reno Novella

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Bound and Determined (Hearts Entwined Collection): A Fort Reno Novella

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135 página
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May 1, 2018


As punishment for his recklessness, Private Bradley Willis is ordered to help a retired cavalry officer move a herd across Indian Territory. No one told him he'd be herding camels or that the captain's daughter would join them on the trail. Despite the mysterious incidents halting their progress, Bradley has to get this herd to Texas--or lose his commission.
May 1, 2018

Sobre el autor

Regina Jennings (www.reginajennings.com) is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history. She's the winner of the National Readers' Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.

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Bound and Determined (Hearts Entwined Collection) - Regina Jennings

© 2018 by Regina Jennings

Published by Bethany House Publishers

11400 Hampshire Avenue South

Bloomington, Minnesota 55438


Bethany House Publishers is a division of

Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan


Ebook edition created 2018

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

ISBN 978-1-4934-1204-4

This is a work of historical reconstruction; the appearances of certain historical figures are therefore inevitable. All other characters, however, are products of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Cover design by Dan Thornberg, Design Source Creative Services



Title Page

Copyright Page












Excerpt from The Lieutenant’s Bargain

About the Author

Other Books by Regina Jennings

Back Ads





I don’t want to die on an empty stomach. Oh, please, don’t let me die hungry." Private Morris smashed his hat down flat as he leveled his pistol against a shelf of rock.

I have some jerky in my saddlebag. As soon as they’ve passed us, I’ll get you some. Then you can leave this earth fulfilled. Private Bradley Willis mopped the sweat away from his eyes with his bandanna.

Captain Chandler lowered his field glasses. They’re headed this way. Any word on that gully? Where does it lead?

Bradley looked over his shoulder at Private Krebs, who was climbing up the bank to join them. The red dust had mixed with his sweat, coating his face in orange.

It don’t go nowhere. We can’t get out that way, but at least it’ll get the horses out of sight.

Three horses. Not enough for four men to outrun the outlaws, especially with one man injured. And with hiding places scarce in the wide plains of Indian Territory, if you couldn’t outrun your foe, you were in a heap of trouble.

The horses are in the gully? When are you getting me some jerky? Morris asked. The blood seeping from the bandage on Morris’s leg was drawing flies in the heat.

Can’t just now, Bradley said. His throat caught as he tried to swallow. He wasn’t partial to being stationed next to an injured man. Fight and win, or die in a blaze of glory—that was Bradley’s plan. It wasn’t that he was afraid. He just couldn’t stand to sit and wait for his fate. They needed to get a jump on these outlaws, and quickly.

Keep steady. If we’re lucky, they’ll pass on by. That was Chandler. Avoid a fight if the odds were against you. If the captain had known that the Gunther gang had picked up four more men, he wouldn’t have followed them in the first place. Turned out it was an ambush. Now they had to limp back to Fort Reno with a strong gang on their trail, and their odds didn’t look good.

Private Krebs took up his rifle on the other side of Bradley. Do they know we’re here? he whispered.

Not yet. Bradley squinted against the waving heat rising off the packed ground. There’s still eight of them? I thought we took down two.

Have mercy, Private Krebs replied. We fired ’most all our rounds. How’d we not hit more?

The Gunthers galloped at a diagonal toward them, in plain sight. If they kept to their path, they’d overshoot the hidden cavalrymen by about a quarter of a mile. As Bradley lay on his stomach, propped up by his arms, the ground vibrated beneath him.

I’m shaky, Morris said. He dropped his pistol and rested his head against the ground. Tell me when they get closer. I’ll save my strength.

The outlaws closed the distance until they were close enough that Bradley could make out the sweat on the flanks of their horses. Pete Gunther’s paint trotted past them without pausing. If the rest of the outlaws would just follow him . . .

The younger Gunther boy turned in their direction. With the heat swerving up and the shadow of his hat, Bradley couldn’t make out his expression, but his palomino dropped out of the pack as he studied a patch of dried grass that the cavalrymen had ridden through.

No one lying behind the crest breathed a word. The flies buzzed around Morris’s leg, but that was the only sound as the gunslinger studied their position.

Ho! the outlaw called. With his outstretched arm, he motioned to the path that led directly to the cavalrymen.

His older brother raised his hand, and the galloping outlaws wheeled around.

That gully might not be a bad idea, Private Krebs said.

And have them shooting down on us? Chandler replied. I’d rather take my chances on flat land.

And Bradley would rather be on his horse, not lying in the dirt like a worm. He looked over at Morris, who’d turned clammy and pale.

If Bradley were in charge, he would’ve hidden Morris in the gully and ridden for reinforcements. Instead, three able-bodied men were hiding because of one injured. It didn’t make any sense at all, but there was no more time for reckoning. They were coming.

Morris? Bradley nudged him with his elbow, but the private was out cold.

Chandler caught his eye. We’ll be fine, he said.

Not necessarily.

The calls of the outlaws were getting more excited as they became convinced they’d found their foe. Bradley sighted along his Sharps rifle. Just tell me when, he said. And then it was time.

With the first volley they unseated two of them, then the ground before them exploded. Bradley fired his rifle twice more. By then, his targets had found cover. Evidently they weren’t of a mind to run away.

We’re pinned down, Bradley said to his commander. What are we supposed to do? Just wait?

Chandler rubbed the sweat from his eyes, leaving a muddy swipe on his forehead. They’re the ones on the run, not us. They’ll move out as soon as they can.

Doubt it, Bradley said. They came back for us, didn’t they?

Chandler shoved his field glasses out of his way as he burrowed farther into the ground. No more of that talk, Private Willis. If Major Adams wasn’t family to you, I would have turned you in for insubordination already.

For that remark? Bradley had done much worse. Besides, Major Adams wasn’t his kin. Not until he married Bradley’s sister, Louisa. And Chandler knew good and well that Major Adams didn’t cut Bradley any slack.

Private Krebs fired off a round. They’re coming closer, he said. See that scrub brush over there? It’s got someone in it.

It was only a matter of time. Bradley looked at Captain Chandler, who had grim determination painted on his face. Then there was Private Krebs, whose nervous energy Bradley understood better. And Private Morris, who was resting fitfully and might never know what hit him if they failed.

The noose was tightening around their necks. Good men would be lost if someone didn’t do something.

I’m taking it to them, Bradley said.

Private Krebs gasped. Are you crazy?

Private Willis, you will not abandon your—

But Bradley wasn’t staying to argue. He rolled away and crawled over the rocky ground until he reached the steep bank of the gully. Sliding down it, he reached his horse. Excitement flooded through him at being in the saddle again. Boots in the stirrups—that was how Bradley would meet his destiny. He hadn’t joined the cavalry to be killed on the ground. He reached back for his saddlebag and got everything arranged, including his pistol. Taking a deep breath, he spurred his horse. It scrambled for its footing as it rose over the bank, but once it emerged, he charged ahead.

Flying over his enraged captain, Bradley dropped a sack of jerky for Morris and plowed toward the band of outlaws waiting for him.


The saber glinted in the morning sun as it swooped through the air. Ambrosia Herald gripped it in both hands and made another daring slice through the dust motes of her father’s library. When she and her mother had designed the floor plan of the new house, they’d made sure to include ample room for her father’s cavalry memorabilia, but now the medals, spurs, and letters of commendation only seemed to agitate him.

It had been months since she’d heard her father’s laugh. Months since he’d felt well enough to take her riding or to work in Mother’s rose garden. When he felt well, he sat at his desk and wrote letter after letter, compelled by forces that the rest of the family didn’t understand, but most days he wandered aimlessly about the house as if looking for something he’d misplaced.

You absolutely cannot go. Her mother’s voice grew clearer as she descended the stairs, speaking, no doubt, to Father’s back. Why don’t you stay home and enjoy your retirement? You’ve earned a rest.

They were coming her way. Ambrosia barely had time to set the saber back on its stand over the fireplace before her parents entered.

I’ve done nothing but rest since winter. And yet his voice sounded weak, strained. It’s time I was out.

But your health, her mother said. It’s delicate.

That word never failed to annoy her father. "It’s not getting any

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